ValerieWhen I awoke, I looked at the clock. 3:16. With a sleepy smile at the reminder that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” I went back to sleep, still exhausted from the rigors of a liturgist during Holy Week. Now in the morning when my mind focuses on the Son’s giving up his glorious existence to experience everything we experience—suffering and death, friendship and love–I look at a question more important than “Why does God allow suffering?” I should ask “Why does God enter into our suffering?”

God and suffering meet on the cross, where Jesus let omnipotence drain from him and took to himself “omni-suffering.” According to Walter Kasper, the “very goal of the incarnation” was the cross. Without the cross, we may have wondered, “Did God really become fully, completely, truly human?” The cross leaves no doubt. Kasper continues, “God would not have become truly a human being had he not entered fully into the abyss and night of death.” Because of the cross “whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).

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